Leo’s Answers #297 – August 23, 2011

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Leo Notenboom

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*** New Articles

Why do I have two desktop.ini files on my desktop?

All of a sudden my desktop has two icons that I never sent there. Both are called desktop.ini. When I try to delete one of these shortcuts, a message appears, saying, "If you remove this file, Windows or another program may no longer work correctly." I've been looking at my desktop every day. The date was modified on the file back about the 21st of July and I am writing you on August 2nd. The only things that I've done differently today are: 1) to change my desktop display to Windows 7 (the plain one, without aero peek outlines) and 2.) to take Leo's advice about "Folder Options" in terms of checking or unchecking items. I also notice that after I changed by folder options (including the one not to hide any hidden folders), some of these new ones say "Access denied" when I click them. Could you provide any explanation for these things?


I can. Those files are displayed because you followed my advice. Smile

Let's take a look at why that is, what I do, and what you might like to do if it bothers you.

Continue reading: Why do I have two desktop.ini files on my desktop?

* * *

How secure is mobile broadband?

I read your article on Just how easy is it to sniff network traffic?. Does the same apply to traffic between my wireless broadband USB and my ISP? I have Windows XP on my desktop and Windows 7 starter on my netbook and swap USB between the two computers. I found this a lot cheaper than having wired broadband at home, but now I am worried after reading your article.


I don't think that you need to worry much because the technologies are completely unrelated.


That doesn't mean that mobile broadband is completely secure.

I'll explain why that is and what I do about it myself.

Continue reading: How secure is mobile broadband?

* * *

Do I need this add-on recommended by this software installation?

When installing some software programs that I purchased on the web, it says while installing, to click on say Ask Jeeves for a search engine. This is "recommended" and also is the Ask Jeeves toolbar again recommended. To be quite blunt about this, Leo, I did not click those even though they were recommended. In the past, I recall that some of this stuff is quite aggressive and soon after the install, my PC wasn't running right. Can the seller that I purchased my software from cause the software to not run correctly because I didn't install the search engine or toolbar that was recommended with the software?


You did the right thing. If the software is truly optional, then saying no should have no impact on your ability to use the software that you actually want.

Software installations have become more and more aggressive in recent years in attempting to get you to install additional things that are unrelated to the software that you've actually purchased.

I have very mixed feelings on this; on one hand, I understand the motivation, but on the other hand, I also understand the ramifications on the average user who is not always sure what to check.

There's even a term that's been coined for this type of software installation: "foistware" - software that's being foisted on you whether you actually want it or not.

Continue reading: Do I need this add-on recommended by this software installation?

* * *

Encrypting using Zip files

".zip" is a very popular and very old archive file format that's typically used to bundle multiple files into a single compressed archive. However, zip files also support fairly robust encryption that you can decrypt in Windows without needing 7-zip, or any other zip utility.

In this video excerpt from an Ask Leo! webinar, I'll walk through encrypting and decrypting using 7-Zip.

Continue reading: Encrypting using Zip files

* * *

How do I find the DNS server being used by my PC?

How do I find the domain name server on my PC?


The DNS (Domain Name System) server used by your PC provides the service that maps domain names (like "ask-leo.com") to IP addresses (like

There are several different DNS servers that you could be using.

I'll look at how to quickly find out what your computer is configured to use and then, I'll show you a couple of approaches to setting different DNS servers.

Continue reading: How do I find the DNS server being used by my PC?

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*** Last Week's Articles

*** Comments

How can an https web site still be nonsecure?

chesscanoe writes:

The Google Chrome browser version 13.0.782.107 beta-m, and perhaps earlier versions are smart enough to show https in green when it's safe, and in red when it's not. The Walmart prescription renewal url is one example that demonstrates this.

Again, that's the page that you're on, and it does not reflect the security of the page that you're going to when you press "Submit", "Login" or whatever after filling in your account details.



How do I recover my data after a computer crash?

steve writes:

In the old days a favoured last resort was to place the HD in your freezer overnight ,wrapped in polythrene, then reconnect it and move quick as hell to recover what you could. The thermal shrinkage involved could render the drive serviceable for a brief period....


How can an https web site still be nonsecure?

JayFlight writes:

Can anyone help with the settings for Firefox? It looks like the article was written in 2008 and those settings (Tools, Options, Security, Settings) was available in Firefox 3.5. In the newer version of Firefox (I'm on v5), there's no "Settings" button, and I can't find a similar one anywhere in Options. Please advise if you find a solution!

Unfortunately that's been moved to a set of hidden preferences in about:config. I found this on that: http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/questions/829577.



How much of my search history could be recovered?

Ari writes:

Leo I like your informative article. I learned a lot. What if we use Private Browsing will it still leave traces on our computer? If web server record our IP address we can use Hide Ip software. Do you think it will be useful or not?

Theoretically Private Browsing doesn't leave traces on your computer. I say theoretically because I don't believe that's an absolute - perhaps traces could be found in files that are deleted by Private Browsing but still recoverable, or traces could be left in the virtual memory swap file on some computers. If it's critical that nothing be found I would personally not rely on Private Browsing features and opt instead for a bootable Live CD that never even touches the hard drive.

I'm not that familiar with IP hiding software. Whether you can be traced depends on the specific approaches used by that software and how good a job it does. In most cases IP hiding tools do not make it impossible to be traced, just harder. The quality of the tool defines just how much harder it makes it.



Why doesn't my click in a search result go directly to the destination?

Randy writes:

I sympathize with the issue of the "Back" button not working, but there's a simple work-around. Unless I'm totally positive that there is ONE answer to my question (and thus I click it and go there), I do not click links in search results.

Instead, try doing a Ctrl-click on one or more links. This opens them in new tabs. Leave the search results page open and then check those tabs to get a variety of possibilities to answer your question or interest. None are quite it? Close those tabs after you review them and at some point you'll be back at your search results. You can then Ctrl-click other links, or refine your search query to better match what you're looking for.

*** Leo Recommends

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As of yesterday, I own 69 86 internet domains. I've registered them all through SimpleURL, a service of Simple Online Solutions.

It's easy to get wrapped up around pricing when looking to register a domain. SimpleURL's prices are quite inexpensive, but certainly not the absolute lowest that you'll find around. You might be able to save a buck or two by going elsewhere.

But in my experience - it'll cost ya.

Continue reading: SimpleURL - Inexpensive Domain Registration ... with Service


Each week I recommend a specific product or resource that I've found valuable and that I think you may as well. What does my recommendation mean?

*** Popular Articles

I see a lot of people in this situation, and it simply doesn't have to be...

How do I reduce the amount of computer maintenance I'm supposed to do?

Sitting again at my PC, doing maintenance...... it seems that doing maintenance takes more time than actually using the PC for surfing or e-mailing. I have by now 9 cleaning-.. virus-... spyware-... backup-....adaware-.... etc.-programs accumulated which I am now trying to run only once a week. Before, I was spending an inordinate amount of time just doing maintenance. There is something very wrong with this picture and the amount of garbage floating around the internet is insane and against which one has to protect oneself. If you have a suggestion on how this can be handled more efficiently, please, let us all know. And I do not want to run my PC at night to do this maintenance automatically.

Leaving your computer running overnight is one common and easy way to deal with this issue. It's certainly what I do.

But it doesn't have to be the only solution.

But I also have to ask: NINE MAINTENANCE PROGRAMS? For starters, it sounds to me like you're doing more maintenance than you need to.

Continue reading...
How do I reduce the amount of computer maintenance I'm supposed to do?

*** Thoughts and Comments

First a quick reminder that both Maintaining Windows XP - A Practical Guide and Secure Your Account! Windows Live Hotmail edition are on sale until the end of the month. 30% off for everyone, and then newsletter subscribers can use the code listed below for 20% more off.

Much of this week's newsletter was written using voice recognition software. Late last week I came down with a bout of tendinitis in my left hand, and typing became quite painful.

After tearing my hair out getting the voice recognition software installed and running the net result is that a couple of this week's articles and this very note are being written not by typing but by speaking.

I know that there are several of you out there that probably take this kind of thing for granted, but I also know that there are others much like myself who are continually amazed by the kinds of things that computers can do. The fact that I can talk and see my spoken words typed out in front of me at the same time is, to me, absolutely amazing.

That's why I often tell friends that it's wonderful to live in the future. Smile

'till next week...

Leo A. Notenboom
Twitter - Facebook

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Posted: August 23, 2011 in: 2011
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/4909
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